Earlier this month two prominent conservatives, Tim Montgomerie and Stephan Shakespeare, launched something called The Good Right. Despite boasting Michael Gove as a vocal supporter, much of what they proposed was unlikely to convince dry right-wingers.
Luxury taxes and above-inflation increases in the minimum wage are hardly ‘sound’ policies. But the central tenet of The Good Right is something to which all conservatives should pay attention: the idea that conservatism which is compassionate is conservatism which is electorally successful.
There is, and has been for some time, a sort of cultural consensus in this country that the Left is somehow more compassionate than the Right. We as a nation seem to accept that the Labour Party is the party of social justice, of fighting inequality, of standing up for the weak. The Conservative Party, by contrast, is in the eyes of many “the nasty party” (though of course that phrase was coined by a Tory, Theresa May).
This is a seismic political battle which, over several decades, the Left has resoundingly won. And this is why it makes strategic sense for Tory supporters to advance evidence of ‘The Good Right’, to try to challenge this immensely electorally significant accepted national norm.
With that in mind, let us turn to the Queen’s Head pub in Downe this Sunday lunchtime. There with his wife and two young daughters was Nigel Farage, probably not a man likely to be invited to be a patron of The Good Right. To use the words of the BBC, the pub was “invaded” by “anti-UKIP protesters”, who “chased the family out of the pub and jumped on the politician’s car bonnet as he drove away”. His two girls, 10 and 15, ran away in fright and were momentarily lost. Farage described the “protesters” as “scum”.
Most people, regardless of political affiliation and whatever their view of Farage, can agree that targeting a politician’s family in this way is pretty despicable. Yet those intimidating two small children because they don’t agree with their father’s political views did so in the name of Right and Wrong. They believed so strongly that UKIP’s policies are Wrong, and that their own socialism is Right, that they were willing to abandon all compassion.
This is not a one-off. Britons are rightly quick to condemn the far-Right – the English Defence League, Britain First and all their nefarious allies. Yet we are slow to criticise their equivalents on the Left.
Where is the public outrage at Communist flags being waved at trade union rallies, in defence of an ideology responsible for the murder of tens of millions of people? Where is the outcry at the anti-Semitism prevalent in the Left-wing Palestine movement? Where is the disgust at the apologism among mainstream Labour politicians and activists for the brutal socialist Venezuelan regime, which locks up political opponents? Where is the revulsion at so-called trade union ‘leverage’ tactic of picketing employers’ homes and demonstrating in front of their children? (Targeting families is almost becoming a theme.)
There may be disagreements on the policy front, but The Good Right should be commended for challenging the Left’s disingenuous claims to a monopoly on compassion. Some of the nastiest people in politics are those pretending to be the most progressive. It’s about time someone called them out on it.